Live: Shea Stadium

On August 15th 1965, The Beatles set a world record as they performed in front of the largest attendance of any pop concert. 55,600 frenzied fans watched the band play Shea Stadium, New York City. The Beatles had originally planned on landing on the baseball field via a helicopter, but this idea was shot down by the authorities. They instead travelled to the gig in an armoured truck.

John, paul, George and Ringo rushed onto the field at Shea Stadium at 9:16pm to a multitude of deafening screams from the 55,600 fans in attendance. Vox had supplied them with 100-watt amps for the show but these proved insufficient, forcing them to hook their instruments up to the in-house PA system. It was difficult for the group to hear anything with the screams. They could only rely on Ringo's drumming to keep their playing in correct time. 

Ticket cost was between $4.50 and $5.50 and the Beatles earned $160,000 for their 30 minute performance. The show made €304,000 in total, another record for the time; and an example to everyone in the business of the profitability of outdoor concerts. 

"Now it's quite commonplace for people to play Shea Stadium or Giants Stadium and all those big places, but this was the first time. It seemed like millions of people, but we were ready for it. They obviously felt we were popular enough to fill it.
Once you go on stage and you know you've filled a place that size, it's magic; just walls of people. Half the fun was being involved in this gigantic event ourselves. I don't think we were heard much by the audience. The normal baseball-stadium PA was intended for: 'Ladies and gentlemen, the next player is...' But that was handy in that if we were a bit out of tune or didn't play the right note, nobody noticed. It was just the spirit of the moment. We just did our thing, cheap and cheerful, ran to a waiting limo and sped off." - Paul McCartney
"Now we were playing stadiums! There were all those people and just a tiny PA system – they couldn't get a bigger one. We always used to use the house PA. That was good enough for us, even at Shea Stadium. I never felt people came to hear our show – I felt they came to see us. From the count-in on the first number, the volume of screams drowned everything else out." - Ringo Starr
"I was putting my foot on it and George couldn't play for laughing. I was doing it for a laugh. The kids didn't know what I was doing.

Because I did the organ on I'm Down, I decided to play it on stage for the first time. I didn't really know what to do, because I felt naked without a guitar, so I was doing all Jerry Lee – I was jumping about and I only played about two bars of it.

It was marvellous. It was the biggest crowd we ever played to, anywhere in the world. It was the biggest live show anybody's ever done, they told us. And it was fantastic, the most exciting we've done. They could almost hear us as well, even though they were making a lot of noise, because the amplification was tremendous.

Nothing really reached us because we were so far away, but we could see all the posters. It's still the same: up there with the mike, you don't try to work out what it all means, you forget who you are. Once you plug in and the noise starts, you're just a group playing anywhere again and you forget that you're Beatles or what your records are; you're just singing." - John Lennon

Set list

  1. "Twist and Shout" (excerpt) (John Lennon)
  2. "She's a Woman" (Paul McCartney)
  3. "I Feel Fine" (John Lennon)
  4. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (John Lennon)
  5. "Ticket to Ride" (John Lennon)
  6. "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (George Harrison)
  7. "Can't Buy Me Love" (Paul McCartney)
  8. "Baby's in Black" (John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
  9. "I Wanna Be Your Man" (Ringo Starr) ("Act Naturally", also sung by Starr, played at Shea Stadium and possibly Maple Leaf Gardens shows)
  10. "A Hard Day's Night" (John Lennon, with Paul McCartney)
  11. "Help!" (John Lennon)
  12. "I'm Down" (Paul McCartney)
Paul McCartney and John Lennon at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

Paul McCartney and John Lennon at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

 The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

 The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

Poster for the Beatles' performance at Shea Stadium, August 15th 1965. 

Poster for the Beatles' performance at Shea Stadium, August 15th 1965. 

 The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

 The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

George Harrison at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

George Harrison at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

John Lennon at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

John Lennon at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

Ringo Starr at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

Ringo Starr at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

John Lennon and George Harrison at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965.

John Lennon and George Harrison at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965.

 The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965. 

 The Beatles at Shea Stadium, August 15th, 1965.